Foothill League boys soccer coaches voted on league awards Monday night. But the gathering also served another purpose. Saugus coach Seth Groller learned earlier in the day his team would play Highland of Palmdale in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 first round Friday, and four people who’d coached against the Bulldogs this season were in the room Monday. “I’ve spoken to the coaches for Hart, Valencia, Canyon and Golden Valley and heard their take on them,” said Groller, whose team is 13-6-4 after finishing second in league, “so we can try to prepare the best we can for them.”
Groller’s early takeaways are that the Bulldogs are a physical team with some size and a couple center midfielders who can control the game. Highland (8-6-4) — the Golden League’s second seed — went 2-2 against Foothill League teams, losing to Valencia and Hart and beating Canyon and Golden Valley. It lost 6-1 to Valencia
, which earned the No. 4 seed in Division 3 on Monday. The Vikings — who clinched their second straight outright league title last week against Saugus — will open at home against Lakewood in Division 3 on Friday. Valencia (16-2-4) hopes it’s the beginning of another deep postseason run. The Vikings won the Santa Clarita Valley’s first-ever boys CIF SoCal Regional title last season. However, the path toward a repeat, or even just to a CIF final game, won’t be without major challenges. No. 1 seed Santiago of Garden Grove, No. 3 Salesian of Los Angeles and Crescenta Valley are a few of the teams that stuck out to Vikings coach Tony Scalercio. He also pointed out No. 2-seed South High of Torrance, which beat the Vikings in the semifinals of the Division 4 playoffs last season. “This Division 3 is loaded with some very talented teams,” Scalercio said. Hart
(16-5-4) finished third in the Foothill League and will open on the road Friday against Cabrillo of Lompoc (13-8-1). The Indians are looking to avoid a second straight first-round exit. They lost 2-0 to Leuzinger of Lawndale at home in last year’s playoff opener. The Santa Clarita Valley’s other playoff pairings feature Omega League champion Einstein
(11-2-2) hosting a wild-card winner Saturday in Division 7, and Trinity
(9-6-1) hosting Foothill Technology of Ventura (6-7-2) on Wednesday in a Division 7 wild-card game. Einstein’s game will be at 4 p.m. at El Cariso Park in Sylmar. Notes: Valencia’s game Friday will be at 5 p.m., according to Scalercio, as the game time (3 p.m. or 5 p.m.) is now the discretion of the home team.